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Yale Opens Season With New Matchup

Ben Reeves and Jack Tigh
Ben Reeves and Jack Tigh

Bulldogs Travel to Villanova to Begin 2017 Season 



NEW HAVEN, Conn. - After one of the most prolific seasons in program history, the Yale men's lacrosse team enters the 2017 season with big expectations. Last year, the team recorded 13 wins, the most in a single season since 1990, and featured some incredible individual performances. Many of the key athletes return to a roster that has added an extremely talented freshman class, giving the Elis legitimate championship hopes. The 2017 campaign begins Saturday against a ranked opponent, as the Elis travel to Villanova for a noon game airing live on Nova Nation All Access. 



Yale has never played Villanova in the over 130 years in which data was recorded. However, there was a 2016 pre-season scrimmage. 



The Elis currently sit at the No. 7 spot in the Maverik Media Poll. This is approximately the same ranking as where they began the 2016 season, before they slowly climbed up the ranks before reaching the No. 1 position as the last undefeated team in Division I. They also are put at the No. 8 spot in Division I in the USILA/Nike Division I Coaches' Poll, the highest ranking of any team in the Ivy League. 



The Bulldogs were also given the top spot in the 2017 Ivy League Men's Lacrosse Preseason poll, as they edged out Brown. Yale received 6 of 12 first-place votes. The Elis and Bears are followed by Penn, and Harvard to round out the top four. 



Four members of the Yale men's lacrosse team have been named preseason All-Americans in a release from Face-Off Yearbook, which appears on the Inside Lacrosse website. Junior Ben Reeves begins the 2017 campaign the same way he ended last season, as a first-team All-American. Eric Scott and Camyar Matini were named to the third team, and Tyler Warner earned an honorable mention.



The Wildcats enjoyed a very successful season last year, as they ranked in the Top 20 throughout most of the regular season. Their nine-win season included impressive victories over Penn and Penn St. Their offense is led by senior attackman Jake Froccaro, who finished the season with 40 goals, and was seventh in the nation in goals per game. They run a very balanced offense, as they have seven players with at least 10 goals last year. 



The Bulldogs were one of the top scoring defenses in the nation last year. They ranked eighth in the nation with 8.13 goals against per game, including a season-low three goals allowed to Sacred Heart. They were also sixth in the nation in caused turnovers per game (8.50), and 12th in the nation for groundballs per game (30.69). Christopher Keating, who is sitting out 2017 with an injury, led the team in both caused turnovers and groundballs, and ranked third in the country with 2.13 caused turnovers per game. 



The Bulldogs averaged 12.38 goals per game last year, 10th in the nation. Of the 198 goals scored, 94 were assisted, and Yale averaged 41 shots per game. The most explosive offensive performance came against Sacred Heart, in which the team posted 19 goals. The team scored 10 or more goals in all but three games last season. Yale outshot opponents 656-488 overall, while maintaining a +68 goal differential, fourth in the nation.



Goals: 19 vs. Sacred Heart

Assists: 10 at UMass-Lowell

Ground Balls: 51 at UMass-Lowell

Shots: 59 vs. St. John's

CTs: 16 vs. Penn

Face-offs: 18 at UMass-Lowell



Goals: 4, Ben Reeves* and Michael Keasey*, multiple games

Assists: 5, Ben Reeves vs. Harvard*

Points: 9, Ben Reeves vs. Harvard*

Saves: 14, Phil Huffard at Fairfield

CTs: 6, Christopher Keating vs. Penn

Face-off wins: 15 Jonathan Reese at Bryant; 14 Conor Mackie at Dartmouth

*Ivy Tournament



A Ben Reeves '18: Tewaaraton Award Finalist, First-team All-Ivy; First-Team All-American (Inside Lacrosse), StringKing POW (Week 5), Two-time Ivy League POW, Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player

A Jeff Cimbalista '17: Ivy All-Tournament Team

G Hoyt Crance '19: Two-time Ivy Rookie of the Week, Ivy All-Tournament Team

M Eric Scott '17: Second-team All-Ivy, Midseason Second-Team All-American (Inside Lacrosse)

D Christopher Keating '17: Second-team All-Ivy, Ivy All-Tournament Team



Last year, 23 different Bulldogs scored on 656 shots. The top six scorers contained a member from each class. The class of 2018 led all with 65 goals. 



The nine members of the class of 2017 have an overall record of 33-13, including two Ivy League Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances. The most wins by a Yale lacrosse class is 46 by the 1991 and 1992 groups. The seniors include Eric Scott (19-16-36 in 2016), Jeff Cimbalista (20-5-25), captain Brian Pratt (26 GB, 2 CT in 2015), Camyar Matini (11 GB, 7 CT), Henry Guild (1-1-2), John Lazarsfeld (0-2-2), Jack Berney, Charlie Better, and Conor Resch. Christopher Keating, who led the team in groundballs and caused turnovers last year, will not be playing this season due to injury. 



The new Bulldogs from the class of 2020 come from seven different states and a Canadian province. They include six midfielders, three defensemen, two attackmen and a goalie. Six of the newcomers earned All-America honors in high school. Joining the high-octane offense on attack are Colin Courtney, Matt Gaudet, and Jackson Morrill. The midfield will be bolstered by Jackson Burton, Lucas Cotler, William Renz, Sam Selati, and Brian Ward. Aiden Hynes, Will Sullivan, and Will Weitzel will be playing on defense, and Brody Wilson will be another goalie on the roster.  Inside Lacrosse ranked this recruiting class as the eleventh best in the nation. 



Ben Reeves made team history last year as the first Yale player named one of the five finalists for the Tewarraton, the highest individual honor in college lacrosse. The preseason First Team All-American is set to build on his record-breaking season, in which he posted the third highest point total ever by a Yale player in a single season. His 79 points and 45 goals are both Yale sophomore records, and he is tied for second in the nation with 4.94 points per game. The Macedon, N.Y., native was named to the 2016 All-Ivy League First Team and the All-American First Team, and was also named the Ivy Tournament Most Outstanding Player. He was StringKing National Player of the Week after scoring four goals and totaling seven points at Cornell. As a freshman, Reeves was the 2015 Ivy Rookie of the Year, and an All-New England and an Ivy All-Tournament selection.



Junior midfielder Eric Scott had the best statistical year of his collegiate career in 2016. Scott had 19 goals and 17 assists, good for third on the team with 36 points. Scott was named a to the 2016 All-Ivy League Second Team, and was named a 2017 preseason third-team All-American by Inside Lacrosse. He is also listed as a preseason First Team All-New England selection by the NEILA. One of his best performances last year occurred in the last regular season game against Harvard, in which he posted five points (2 G, 3 A) in the five-goal comeback effort. Scott was named to the first-team All-New England in 2015, and was fourth on the team in scoring with 28 points (22 G, 6 A). 



Senior attackman Jeff Cimbalista has been a critical asset to the Yale offense over the past three seasons. Last year, he had six multi-goal game, including two hat tricks against St. John's and Cornell. Cimbalista was also named to the 2016 All-Ivy Tournament team after scoring four goals in two games. He had 20 goals and 25 points last spring. As a sophomore, he finished second on the team with 30 goals. He also placed third on the Bulldogs with 35 points.



Yale athletics teams have just one captain. Senior Brian Pratt, the voted leader of the 2017 Bulldogs, is a versatile asset at the LSM position. Despite a season-ending injury before the start of the 2016 season, he was still visible on field, leading the players onto the field before pre-game warmups. Pratt had 26 groundballs and 2 caused turnovers during the 2015 season for a defense that ranked among the top 10 in the country. "It is a true honor to be voted captain by my teammates. It is a rich tradition at Yale and I am humbled to be a part of it," Pratt said. Looking forward to this season, he said, "I think we have an unbelievable amount of potential next year. Our goals will be high, and our work ethic needs to be even higher. It is important not to lose sight of the hardnosed, corner dog mentality as we continue to move the program to new places." This past summer, the political science major interned at Barclays. 



Senior Camyar Matini was named to the 2017 Preseason Third Team All-American list, and for good reason. Last season he has recorded 11 ground balls and seven caused turnovers, despite missing five games due to injury. He was part of the starting lineup during the first games of the season, joining Michael Quinn and Chris Keating to form a tenacious defense that was in the top 10 in the nation for scoring defense. Matini is listed as a 2017 Preseason Second Team All-New England selection.



Junior Tyler Warner joined Matini as an honorable mention for the 2017 Preseason All-American list as a defensive short stick midfielder. He was also recently named to the 2017 NEILA Preseason All-New England Team as a short-stick defender. He recorded 16 groundballs and six caused turnovers last year, and scored goals against both Penn and Sacred Heart. Warner has enough stamina to cover some of the top attackmen in the country, while leading a transition offense that can quickly score at the other end. His tenacity showed in the 2016 Ivy League Tournament, when he and Jason Alessi played a critical role in the defensive zone to secure another championship for the Bulldogs. 



Two-sport Division I athletes are unique, even more so are key players for both teams. Junior midfielder Jason Alessi is the best male example at Yale, starting on defense for the football team, while making plays for the lacrosse team. Alessi finished the 2016 season with 12 goals and 2 assists, including three multi-goal games. On the gridiron, the defensive back is the only player in Yale history to record a pair of punt returns for TDs over 80 yards.  Alessi is listed as a Preseason Second Team All-New England selection by the NEILA. 



Sophomore Hoyt Crance started the final six games of 2016, and posted impressive numbers in his first collegiate season. Crance made 61 saves while only allowing 55 goals in nine games. He was named an All-Ivy Tournament selection, and was the Ivy League Rookie of the Week twice. Junior Phil Huffard also posted a .459 save percentage, while making 62 saves in 10 games. 



This year, more Yale lacrosse games are expected to be aired on national television than in any previous year. On February 25, the Bulldogs travel to College Park to take on 2016 national runner-up Maryland in a game that airs live on ESPNEWS. On March 24, Yale travels to Princeton to take on its conference rival, and the game can be seen on ESPNU. In one of the most highly-anticipated games of the year, the Elis host Brown on April 15, which can again be seen on ESPNU. The 2017 Ivy League Tournament will also be aired on the ESPN Networks.  



Yale, coming off its fourth Ivy Tournament Championship in five years, beat Penn 7-6 on May 6 of last spring before knocking off Harvard 14-9 on the 8th.  Sophomore Ben Reeves earned MVP honors with seven goals and 12 points and had plenty of offensive help, but the defense came up just as big. Freshman goalie Hoyt Crance made 19 saves combined. The Elis were also effective on the X, winning 27 of 42 face-offs.


filed by Andrew Del Vecchio '19, Yale Sports Publicity